Sunday, January 13, 2013

Statesmen are needed by Roger Sanders

Illinois' legislative leaders and governor have failed public employees, retirees, and citizens in their ill-conceived attempts to address the state's budget woes and pension funding through unconstitutional efforts to punish workers and retirees.

One-term Quinn's depicting public employees and retirees as snakes squeezing the life out of the state budget is a despicable propaganda campaign that can best be described as a lie. For 50 years Illinois politicians failed to adequately fund public pensions, costing the five pension systems $30 billion directly plus the loss of investments that could have been realized. Had politicians properly funded state pensions, there would be no discussion today about pensions. In reality, public pension systems have subsidized state operations for over half a century.

Every educator has paid his or her pension obligation with every paycheck, every year. They do not earn Social Security credit as teachers, paying over 150% more into their only pension plan than those contributing to Social Security. Teacher retirees pay on average $500 per month for state health insurance. Many of them do not qualify for Medicare. The average teacher retiree is a 70-year-old female who earned a $46,452 pension. Clearly, teachers and other public employees are doing their part without fail to provide services for all citizens and to fund their own pension.

Statesmen are needed to solve Illinois' budget issues. There are real solutions, including guaranteeing state pension payments, amortizing the pension debt over 30 years (much like paying a mortgage), eliminating tax loopholes and other corporate welfare, replacing the current flat tax rate with a progressive income tax, working with unions for constitutionally-sound principles..., instituting limits on state spending, reordering spending priorities, and attacking the culture of corruption and collusion in state government.

Public employees and retirees are doing their part. Pensions do not need to be reformed. They need to be honored. Politicians, unions, and retirees working together can find workable solutions. Unfortunately, to date, politicians are failing to do their part. We all deserve real statesmen to step forward and lead.

--Roger Sanders

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